This is not how rookie Paxton Lynch wanted his first NFL start to go. Lynch was sacked 5 times by a team that has only had 5 sacks coming into the game last Sunday.
The Bronco mentality seemed to be absent throughout this one. The offensive line was offensive. They were pushed around and beat on the edges the whole game.
For his part Lynch held onto the ball way too long for the short time he was protected. Rookies have a learning curve for sure and Lynch was schooled on the speed and strength of the big boys in NFL.
At times Lynch had that “deer in the headlights” look on his face. When he was forced out of the pocket he failed to keep his cool and tended to run aimlessly and he fumbled twice. When he was able to scramble he took a slide too soon on one play and almost didn’t get the first down.
This loss wasn’t all on the head of Paxton Lynch. The Broncos wanted desperately to establish a running game but failed to get anything going at all. CJ Anderson was held to 41 rushing yards on 11 carries, and rookie Devontae Booker carried for 23 yards on 6 carries. Lynch running for his life rushed for 18 yards on 6 scrambles.
The passing game was hindered by dropped balls, sacks, holding penalties, and over thrown passes. It was just an all around sloppy offensive performance by the entire team.
It seemed coach Kubiak resigned himself to just letting this game become a learning experience for Lynch and hoped to get through it without any injuries.
The play calling was extremely conservative until it was too late in the game to mount a comeback. Down 20-3 in the 4th quarter the coaches failed to step up the pace. The hurry- up offense was too slow. Poor clock management allowed Atlanta’s defense to make adjustments and substitutions.
Atlanta on the other hand, came into our house and dominated on both sides of the ball.
The Bronco defense missed tackles on running plays and fell victim to passes to backs running short crossing patterns that resulted in yards after the catch. Bronco linebackers were beat over and over on those plays.
Atlanta running back Tevin Coleman burned the Broncos for 132 yards on only 4 receptions almost entirely on short passes in the middle of the field. Bronco defensive coach Wade Phillips never did make the necessary adjustments to take away the middle of the field.
The only part of the Denver defense that played up to their reputation was the secondary. The “No Fly Zone” held Atlanta’s star receiver Julio Jones to 29 yards on 2 catches. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan managed to finish with 267 yards passing, but as stated earlier 132 of those yard came on short passes that went for yardage after the catch.
A too little too late comeback attempt by the Broncos narrowed the final score to 16-23. The last ray off hope was dashed when the Broncos were called for an off sides penalty during an on-sides kick that they recovered. The penalty forced another kick that Atlanta hauled in.
Bottom line, the Broncos got their butts kicked because of poor offense, especially on the part of the offensive line, failure to stop Atlanta’s short passing game, and missed tackles.
With the Raiders beating the Chargers on Sunday, the Broncos are now tied with the Raiders for first place in the AFC West, with identical 4-1 records.
Broncos travel to San Diego on Thursday night to play the Chargers in an all important Division game.